Most high school seniors go through the college process with their ‘golden’ school in mind, some kind of shining city on a hill with an entrance guarded by the oh-so-elusive admissions officers. Once you get your acceptance letter, there is usually no doubt that you have chosen the ‘right’ school. You buy heaps of college gear, proudly displaying your newfound allegiance. You search your school’s Facebook group for a roommate, avoiding commenting on any posts while liking a few along the way.
This freshman anticipation gives way to an abundance of small talk during orientation (“Hi my name is…, I’m from…, My major is…) and late night studying that high school didn’t prepare you for. However, one thing you may not anticipate is the nagging feeling that you are in the wrong place. Maybe the school is too small, too big, has too much Greek life or not enough of it, or perhaps you don’t feel academically inspired. All this is contrary to the elated feeling of grasping your admissions letter. How could a process that was supposed to guide you in the right direction possibly go wrong? We go through the college process supposing that we want this or that attribute for our school, but do we truly know ourselves at eighteen?
Oftentimes, the college process guides us to typify the different types of schools (liberal arts, State school) in order to determine those we should apply to. Through touring, interviews, and browsing countless websites, high school students are expected to get a taste of a school despite never spending much time there. A four-year commitment is sometimes made with little forethought.
Being at college for a few months teaches us what we truly want out of a college experience. Being a freshman is difficult, and the adjustment does take time. You may meet your best friends second semester, or take a class later in the year that inspires you to follow a different academic track. Every night in college is a new experience, and every freshman should remember that before denouncing their school too soon or getting too discouraged.
However, if you do feel like the school you chose isn’t right for you, it’s important to know that transferring isn’t a big deal. Sure, you have to go through an application process all over again, but you will understand yourself and what you want out of a school so much more. As a second-year transfer to U.Va., I was reluctant to go through another adjustment period. I had just gone through freshman year, and once again I felt like an outsider. During my first weeks as a transfer, I met tons of other girls in the same boat as I was. We were all a little lost in our new environment, yet many of us already knew people on campus and already had a major in mind. Finding buildings may have been difficult, but the university welcomed us transfers with open arms.
Though transfers may miss what they left behind at another school, everyone makes these decisions for different reasons. All are valid. As a high school student accepted to my dream school, I never dreamt I would leave after only a year. You can’t anticipate how you will change and grow in college (and your college process certainly can’t anticipate it either). So if you don’t get it right the first time, just know that it’s okay to try again.